Two rising stars on the national and international racing circuit — Will Brandenburg and Leanne Smth — have earned one of the most prestigious honors for a domestic racer. This marks the 32nd time Ski Racing has presented a U.S. Junior Alpine Skier of the Year award, the first pair going to Steve Mahre and Leslie Leete Smith in 1975. The award has often been the first national recognition for skiers who have later gone on to great success.
ALYESKA RESORT, Alaska — Two rising stars on the national and international racing circuit have earned one of the most prestigious honors for a domestic racer.
This marks the 32nd time Ski Racing has presented a U.S. Junior Alpine Skier of the Year award, the first pair going to Steve Mahre and Leslie Leete Smith in 1975. The award has often been the first national recognition for skiers who have later gone on to great success.
Former winners have won at least 100 national titles, 61 World Cup races, 20 World Championship medals, 10 Olympic medals, 31 World Junior Championship medals and two pro titles. Others have gone on to positions of importance within the ski industry. Former winners include U.S. racing icons Christin Cooper, Tamara McKinney, Tommy Moe, Julia Mancuso and U.S. Ski Team’s Alpine Program Director Jesse Hunt. Ski Racing is proud of this track record and looks forward to the results this year’s winners will add to the totals.
The 2007 winners:
Male — Will Brandenburg
Will Brandenburg, 20, of Spokane, Washington, races from the Schweitzer Alpine Racing School. Brandenburg had a long and difficult season, with two Europa Cup trips as well as competing in the World Junior Championships, where he produced the best U.S. result — fifth in downhill. He also led the U.S. result sheets in the men’s GS. Domestically, he finished 10th in the final NorAm standings — fourth in GS — and he has done well at the U.S. Alpine National Championships, leading all juniors in the downhill and super G.
Female — Leanne Smith
Leanne Smith, 19, of Conway, New Hampshire, has raced from the Mount Washington Valley program. She won the NorAm overall and super G titles this season and was top 10 in every discipline. She finished fifth in both of the downhills held at the U.S. championships (the title race and a FIS event), leading all juniors in both races.
U.S. Ski Team men’s head coach Phil McNichol said of Brandenburg, “I’ve watched Will and been around Will, mostly in the preparation period and early in the comp cycle, then just had to watch him from afar. He’s a very exciting up-and-coming guy. He’s shown that he can win at different levels, which is important. He had a great NorAm season and junior worlds were really good. He’s still having difficulty in his technical events putting two runs together, which is something he’ll need to focus on. Clearly, it’s a two-run game. … If you look at his DNF history this year, it’s probably a little high. But overall, a tremendous movement on his rankings, tremendous success in some events, and clearly one of our hot and up-and-coming guys.”
U.S. Ski Team women’s head coach Patrick Riml said of Smith, “I’m so psyched for her. It was a great performance throughout the year. She had a great Europa Cup finish, she won a super G title, overall NorAm Cup winner, so it’s big. She showed the last couple of days in the super G and downhill that she’s a very strong speed skier coming up through the Europa Cup and World Cup level.”